Bakersfield College volleyball coach Carl Ferreira doesn’t want his players to think about Friday’s game as anything more than just another volleyball match.
“Whichever teams can simplify and keep the game the game, probably have a little bit of an advantage,” said Ferreira, who was named the Southern California coach of the year.
But as the Renegades keep winning, the importance of the matches only increases exponentially. BC (25-1) will take on Fresno City (27-3) at Solano College at 4 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals of the state volleyball tournament.
A win would advance the Renegades to a semifinal match on Saturday against either Cypress or Gavilan. Another win would have BC playing for a state title on Sunday.
The Renegades are in the state tournament for the first time since 2009 and third all-time. BC finished fourth in 1993 but has never won the state championship.
“That’s the goal. That’s the vision,” Ferreira said of winning it all. “There’s absolutely no reason we should think anything else.”
There are three things that Ferreira talked to his team about heading into the tournament: vision, excuses and adapting.
He wants each player to have a clear vision of their goals and winning the state title. That should help prevent them playing nervous or tight. He won’t accept any excuses at this time of year because neither the game nor the opponent care. Though Ferreira wants his team to enjoy the banquet and spectacle of the tournament, he needs them to adapt to the new experience and playing in a new place.
Be where your feet are, he says.
“We just have to stay in the now,” freshman middle blocker Ryan Bayne said. “It’s exciting to get there and be there as a team and just to achieve it all together.”
Fresno City was the No. 3 seed in the north and finished the regular season ranked 11th in the state. BC was the No. 2 seed in the south and finished the regular season slotted second in California.
The Rams lead the state in kills per set (13.52) and assists per set (12.48). Worst of all, for BC, Fresno has some balance with more than three players averaging more than two kills per set.
The Renegades prepare for each match by identifying the top three strengths of their opponent and try to take them away. BC tries to force teams to beat it with their fourth and fifth options.
Of the teams left, Fresno, Cypress, Gavilan and Irvine Valley all have balance, Ferreira said. Cypress and El Camino, which BC beat earlier this season, “can shrink the net.”
“The little things are really what are going to get us through the state tournament,” outside hitter Lanie Camarillo said. “I don’t necessarily think we need to fix anything. I just think we need to continue doing what we’ve always done.”
BC setter Sarah Armendariz earned first team All-American honors for being third in the state with 10.38 assists per set. Camarillo is 10th with 4.08 kills per set and Bayne is 17th with 0.93 blocks per set.
The team will get to the gym for Friday’s first game at 10 a.m. to see what it’s like. The rest of its pregame routine will be as close to the same as possible.
What has Ferreira the most confident is his team’s resolve in its tightest and most intense matches this year.
“If I look at the moments in the year where we’ve had the most competitive, stressful situations, one of the characteristics of this team is they’ve been very good in really big moments,” Ferreira said.